From social determinants to social epigenetics: Health geographies of chronic disease Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Social epigenetics explores relationships between social factors and health inequities embodied at the molecular level. Through modulating gene expression, epigenetic changes resulting from human-environment interactions may play a role in shaping health trajectories. This paper applies a health geography lens to explore the potential and support for conducting social epigenetic studies of chronic diseases with complex and dynamic etiologies. In so doing, we argue that social epigenetics presents a novel space for investigations of health and disease that is transdisciplinary and builds upon new understandings of bodies and place-based experiences. Given gender disparities in chronic diseases, we adopt a feminist perspective that cogitates the transactive relationships between gender and health/ill-health as mediated by biosocial processes at a variety of scales. Looking forward to the practical undertaking of social epigenetic studies, we assess existing theoretical and methodological support as well as insights to be gained. Reflecting upon the central tenets of health geography, we propose a unique positionality for health geographers to drive this field forward.

publication date

  • May 2021